Our Favorite Timeless Plots
Here Be Dragons
Sharon Kay Penman
This is the book that catapulted me into a love of historical fiction. Just like The Hobbit did with high fantasy, Here Be Dragons opened a whole new world to me – but this one was my own world and what could really have been. All of a sudden, kings and princes and dull, dry history came alive, and I realized – truly realized deep down in my bones and through every atom of my heart – that dead names on a page were once living, breathing, passionate, imperfect, flawed and wonderful people, constrained only by their times and the limitations set on them by circumstance. And I don’t believe I was the only one to make this discovery – Here Be Dragons was the gateway for many of us, to a deeper understanding of our world.
Since reading Here Be Dragons, I have come to truly cherish well researched historical fiction, and to crave those genres that push the fictional boundaries even further: alternate histories, supernatural retellings of our ancient stories, worlds akin to ours, worlds that we have become or retreated to, parallel worlds. Yes, biographies, memoir, documentaries, scholarly reconstructions, dramatic retellings – they all have their place. But it took the openly fictionalized yet eminently believable true story of a bastard princess and a dashing, young prince of Wales to dare me to peer beyond the borders of knowledge and peek at the marvelous worlds that exist past those edges, and into all the possibilities that just may lie on the other side.